Six schools in Grand Cayman and three in Cayman Brac are getting a jump-start on a potential life-saver, thanks to a $20,000 project of the Cayman Heart Fund.
The project, which was made possible through fund-raising by the Cayman Heart Fund with assistance from businesses and individuals, will put automated external defibrillators in the schools this month. The AEDs, as they are known, deliver an electric shock to the heart when someone is having a cardiac arrest.
Impetus for the project came in the wake of the death last year of 20-year-old footballer Gerome Graham, who collapsed during a practice match at the Bodden Town playing field. The long-time Bodden Town Football Club team member and former member of the Cayman Islands national team, was taken by ambulance to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
After Mr. Graham’s death, the Cayman Heart Fund decided to find out how many government schools had defibrillators on-site, said Sue Rajah, the organization’s programs coordinator.
Acting quickly when someone is in cardiac arrest and fighting for his or her life is crucially important, according to the British Heart Foundation. When someone goes into cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces their chances of survival by 10 percent, the foundation’s website says.
Dr. Sook Yin, the Cayman Heart Fund’s medical director, explained that since schools are public venues where large numbers of people typically congregate, there is always a chance someone will collapse from sudden cardiac arrest, which can strike adults and children of any fitness level. Most schools can’t afford to have a doctor or emergency medical team on campus during school hours and during after-school activities, Dr. Yin said, but they can afford to have an easy-to-use automated external defibrillator.
The Heart Fund encourages school personnel to get proper training in using and maintaining the defibrillators.
The first defibrillator was presented to Principal Allison Wallace at East End Primary School last week.
“We are delighted to have the life-saving equipment, which can be used by staff members trained in CPR and first aid,” said Ms Wallace, who thanked the organization for the donation.
Other Grand Cayman schools that will receive a defibrillator include: John Gray, John A Cumber, NCVO, Lighthouse and UCCI. In Cayman Brac, Creek and Spot Bay, West End Primary and Layman E. Scott High School will receive the life-saving devices.
The Heart Fund also strongly recommends that all gyms, recreation centers and sports complexes have defibrillators on-site.
Cayman Heart Fund is a nonprofit, nongovernmental, charitable organization whose aim is to reduce and help prevent cardiovascular disease through education. It also provides free medical screenings and medical equipment and services.